Massive Speakers Pay to Appear

Massive is a local conference and trade show put on by the folks at Techvibes. I wandered the trade show floor at the 2005 edition, and had mixed feelings.

In exploring 2006 speaking and sponsorship opportunities (at my day job, for clients and ourselves), we discovered that the speakers paid to speak at the 2005 conference, and were expected to do so for the 2006 version

I know this is a common industry practice, but it’s a lousy one. It’s especially bad because Techvibes apparently failed to apprise the conference attendees of this arrangement. Instead of paying to hear a select group of experts, the attendees are paying to hear the sponsors’ front men. Admittedly, the price tops out at CAN $149, but attendees have a right to know about the speaker selection process.

I emailed Mike Schwarz, president of Techvibes. I asked why they undertook this approach, whether there was any public visibility regarding the selection process and, if not, why? I advised him that I’d be posting his reply, which follows:

What I can tell you is that we have many high calibre speakers coming to us that are willing to participate in Massive 2006 for free and that due to the high demand, we are giving our paying sponsors first crack at it, then to anyone willing to pay for speaking, then our main exhibitors and so on.

If you are interested in exhibiting at Massive 2006 to gain exposure to over 5,000 business professionals and executive level decision makers, please let me know and I’ll send you the media kit again with all the information.

If you ask me, that’s a formula for lame speakers and ad-rich product pitch presentations. I’m not necessarily arguing that TechVibes should be paying speakers–they just ought to be choosing the most meritorious ones.

But then, what do I know? I helped organize a conference last year that cost $25 a person.

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